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In the Ukraine war, the West must also woo the global South

The Munich Security Conference jogs behind reality.

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In the Ukraine war, the West must also woo the global South

The Munich Security Conference jogs behind reality. Or better: At the conference one can observe how the West is trying to catch up with the actually existing present. At this year's edition, the democratic nations have made up some ground, but they haven't quite caught up with reality yet.

What has happened so far: When they met in Munich in 2022, the Europeans simply did not want to believe that a war with Russia was imminent. Only the British and Americans warned that Putin would soon invade Ukraine and called for joint countermeasures.

But the old continent continued to bet that Putin would act rationally by European standards, i.e. negotiate. Intellectually, Europe was still light years away from that “new world” that Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock would diagnose just a few days later, on the day when the war did start after all.

Since then, Europe has recognized that diplomatic arguments also need supporting military arguments if the other party doesn't want to talk. European action has also evolved, but its speed is not yet up to the challenge, as evidenced by the slow pace of tank deliveries to Ukraine. But to really catch up with global reality, more would be needed. At least that's what this year's conference diagnosed.

With the uniformity of a management seminar, practically all Western leaders in Munich repeated one formula: Ukraine is not just about Europe and Russia, it is about defending a rule-based order, without which all countries on earth would suffer. This message is correct. But the rather cautious condemnation of the Russian invasion in the UN General Assembly shows that the "Global South" does not yet believe this message.

Above all, because the West prefers to show solidarity when it benefits from it itself. That needs to change. We will need the Global South when China actually supplies weapons to Russia, when Iran gets one step closer to the nuclear bomb, when climate change triggers migration crises in Europe.

The dialogue with Asia, Africa and Latin America has long been underestimated as a do-gooder topic. In truth, it is a power issue that determines our security. It needs a good democratic offer to the Global South. Before the next conference.

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